A dollmaker (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife (Miranda Otto) suffer the devastating loss of their daughter. Years later, they open their home to a group of young orphan girls. It doesn’t take long for one of the girls, who is stricken with polio, to become possessed, which might hamper her chances of being placed in foster care.
The first Conjuring spin-off, Annabelle was thoroughly awful and had the distinction of being the worst major release horror film in recent memory. David F. (Lights Out) Sandberg’s prequel manages to top it in the very first scene with a disturbing sequence detailing the accidental death of a child. There’s a lot more going on here technically too. Sandberg’s use of camera movement and effective atmospheric lighting, especially early on helps to set mood nicely. He also delivers one or two crackerjack moments, like when a sheet begins walking around all by itself.
The problem is, the stuff with the evil doll feels unnecessary. The scenes of the orphan girls exploring the creepy house at night work much better. These scenes are compelling, and every time the doll pops up fighting for screen time, it takes the wind out of the girls’ storyline. Their lowkey moments are much more effective than the stuff involving the CGI oil slicks, gratuitous jump scares, and random appearances of the doll. You almost get a sense that the doll was put in there so it could be sold as a Conjuring movie but deep in its heart, it wants to be its own thing. It’s also too long at 109 minutes.
Like Ouija: Origin of Evil, Annabelle: Creation manages to outdo the original in every way. If you ever saw Ouija or Annabelle, you realize that wasn’t very hard to do, but still. Neither film is exactly a home run or anything, but you at least have to appreciate the enormous uptick in quality.
Anthony LaPaglia does a fine job as the bereaved father, especially in the early scenes. You’ll wish he had more to do though. Stephanie Sigman is quite fetching as the sexy nun in charge of the girls. I’d pay good money to see her in a reboot of the Laura Gemser Emanuelle series.
Overall, Annabelle: Creation works better as a possession movie than as an example of the killer doll genre. In the end, I guess that was smart considering how bad the first Annabelle was. It still has to be disappointing for anyone who walks in expecting a killer doll flick.
Hey, are you wondering where my review for the original Annabelle is? Well, you can find it in my latest book, The Bloody Book of Horror, which is currently on sale at Amazon. To get your copy, follow this handy link: https://www.amazon.com/Bloody-Book-Horror-Mitch-Lovell/dp/1542566622/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1538450805&sr=8-3